To say that this year’s Battle of the Ocean State has lost some sizzle would be an understatement. URI is off to a 2-5 start under new head coach Archie Miller in what appears to be a rebuild for the Rams. PC, on the other hand, is off to a 5-3 start without any noteworthy wins on the resume. It also didn’t help the build up that the Friars had a big game at TCU this week and fell flat on their face to the tune of a 75-62 loss.
The game may lack the hype of usual rivalry games, but this is Providence’s first trip to Kingston since 2019. PC nixed the 2021 game in Kingston due to the lack of games with the pandemic, and URI fans sadly claimed the Friars were ducking them. So while on paper the game lacks sizzle it’s a game that both teams really want to win.
Change to the Lineup?- After Providence struggled mightily on offense versus the Horned Frogs many fans are clamoring for a lineup change. PC has rolled out a starting 5 of Bynum, Locke, Carter, Hopkins and Croswell the majority of the season. Cooley did make a small tweak having Clifton Moore replace Locke against TCU but fans clearly want more. We ran a poll on the Crier Twitter page and a resounding 97% of the votes were in favor of a new starting 5. Jayden Pierre has been coming on strong of late. Can we see the freshman get his first career start?
Playing With Desperation- A key in this game will be which team plays with more desperation. As we said the Rams are 2-5, and this is a great opportunity for Archie Miller to get his first signature win with URI. Providence may have a better record but they need to come out with some urgency in this one. Despite the Rams record, any win on the road is significant, and this is the Friars last chance at a quality victory in the non-conference slate. Against TCU they started the first half -9 and the second half -8. PC can’t afford to come out slow, and that is sure to be an emphasis from the coaching staff. The team that plays with the most desperation should have a great shot at winning.
Can Bynum Break Out of His Slump?- Jared Bynum was voted preseason all-Big East for a reason. His monster scoring performances in conference play last year more than warranted the accolade. However, this year has been a struggle for JB to date. Bynum is tied for 4th on the team in scoring at 9.5 ppg and is shooting 15% from three after a scorching 41% a season ago. Believe it or not, this is Bynum’s first game as a Friar against URI. He did face them while at St. Joe’s and scored 19 points on 6/9 from the floor. Let’s see if Bynum can get back on track.
Can Croswell Dominate In The Paint vs Rams Again?- Last season Ed Croswell came off the bench and absolutely dominated the Rams. In 22 minutes Ed had 13 points and 15 rebounds. This game might’ve been the start of “Ed Croswell MVP” chants from Section 234. Gone are the Mitchell twins but URI is a guard led team. Look for Ed to bounce back after a rough go vs Ed Lampkin and the Horned Frogs.
Hopkins Should Dominate- URI is a guard led team and doesn’t get a ton of production out of their bigs. Look for Bryce Hopkins to feast in this one. His size and ability to get to the rim should overwhelm the Rams. If there’s an o/u on Hopkins points, the Crier suggests you hammer it.
Ishmael Leggett Fuels a Struggling URI Offense- You thought the Friars were bad on offense against TCU? The Rams are rated 264 in the nation in KenPom’s offensive adjusted efficiency. URI has really struggled shooting the ball this year, shooting 24.6% from three and only 37% from the floor. This should be a welcome sight for a Friar team that has struggled occasionally on defense. Ishmael Leggett, however, is a guy the staff needs to identify on the scouting report. The sophomore guard is averaging a team high 18 ppg and shooting 43% from the floor. Look for Archie to try and get Leggett isolated on Bynum to try and spark his offense. Leggett will surely look to best his 6 point effort against the Friars last year.
Crier: This game will be better than advertised. URI will come to play and it will be a raucous environment at the Ryan Center. That said URI just doesn’t have enough on offense to keep up with the Friars. PC pulls away late and win 74–66.
BOC: Good game to get back on track. Friars come out of the gates hot with a starting line-up change and withstand a late second half surge against URI. Providence wins 72 – 65.